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La perspectiva del Real Zaragoza - with Magnus Skjeltorp (19th July, 2017)

You can follow Margus on Twitter here.

A bit about yourself and your background?

I'm a 27 years old Norwegian from outside Oslo. I grew up there and started to follow Spanish football back when I was 13 years old. I've worked as a freelance journalist since 2008, and now I live in Spain - right outside Málaga.

How long have you been a fan of Zaragoza and what made you support them in the first place?

Since 2004. I saw the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid, where they won against the odds.

Describe your first experience of watching Zaragoza play?

My first visit at the stadium wasn't until 2011 against Real Sociedad. Hélder Postiga scored his famous chilena in that game!

To an outsider - how would you describe Zaragoza's playing style, what it means to be a fan of the club, and what it means to be a player of the club?

Their style is intense. A lot of pressure when in defense and at times too fast forward. The style requires a quick striker who can run deep behind the defense. The club itself is historically big and all players who sign for us points out just that. It is a team that belongs to La Liga.

Describe the importance and significance of a game against a rival such as Huesca and Numancia? What do you think would be the key differences between an Zaragoza and a fan of those clubs?

The key differences are based in the fact that Real Zaragoza is a much bigger club. The fans of Huesca and Numancia are proud of their team, even though they don't get to La Liga. In Zaragoza however they are desperate to get back.

There was a time when Zaragoza was a La Liga mainstay. However, they are now struggling in the Segunda. How would you describe the last few seasons for Zaragoza fans? 

They've been quite a pain in the ass. Segunda is one hell of a competitive league, and the level of the teams are quite equal. Last season we scored a lot of goals, but conceded way too much as well.

What is your opinion on the utilization of the youth teams? How would you rate the opportunities that youth players get in the first team?

Real Zaragoza's youths are great! A lot of great players have come through there and many get their chances. At the end of last season, three canteranos were promoted to the first team after Deportivo Aragón got promoted to Segunda B.

List some things you appreciate and some things you can’t stand about the club management.

Negatives: The lack of judgement when it comes to managers they're hiring. That they still haven't come to an agreement to make La Romareda a bit more fresh. It's old.

Positives: Going for young and talented players. Giving canteranos the chance. Pushing down the salaries in the club in order to spend money on more important stuff.

The most famous ultra groups at Zaragoza are Ligallo and Avispero. How would you describe them and their political affiliations? What is the feeling of fans of Zaragoza and of other clubs towards them? How would you characterize the Zaragoza board's support to them?

They're quite the opposite of each other. Ligallo (which is the biggest group) are extreme right and Avispero are extreme left. Both are very passionate for the club but the club doesn't support them much. A few years ago, all ultras groups were banned from the stadium.

It's a very unique thing for a club to have ultras that fight among themselves - something that became very visible against Getafe this season. Is it accurate to suggest that there is not one but two Zaragoza's? What measures has the club taken (for or against them), and do you think they are adequate?

Both are zaragocistas in different ways...

Any other notable ultras or fan groups that are worth mentioning?

Not really!

How would you contrast the "Zaragoza fan experience" under Agapito Iglesias and the new management?  

On the pitch it's the same old, but off the pitch there is more optimism than 5-6 years back. The new board have cut a big part of the debt during their time, and they want the best for the club. They're also reasonable when it comes to expenses like salaries and payments for players. Agapito was quite the opposite and sank the ship after spending millions on millions on players, plus horrendous wages.

Is there something that the media doesn't (or maybe doesn't want to) talk about Zaragoza that you think is worth mentioning? 

Nope. The main medias (El Periódico de Aragón, Heraldo, Marca etc) love to put the club in a bad light if there is something notable to write about.

Your thoughts on the season ahead?

I hope we can fight for promotion now that we have a good coach with clear defensive strategies, but I do not dear to hope for promotion before I see how the team works together, and how they cope with their mentality. That has been a major problem the last seasons (for example when they lead 1-0 and then lose all control of the match).

Afterwards, I remembered that a few months back, I interviewed a Norwegian fan of Gimnàstic (here) and it was immensely popular. So I contacted him again and asked him if Spanish football was a "thing" in Norway and if so why - or whether I was making a correlation out of nothing.

Here's what he had to say:

"The interest for Spanish football is increasing day by day in Norway, and it's becoming a thing to not go mainstream (Premier League). 

Of course many young fans are starting to follow Real Madrid and Barcelona, but as of today, we also have Norwegian fans of; Atlético, Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal, Real Sociedad, Espanyol, Málaga, Las Palmas, Real Betis, Levante, Real Zaragoza, Rayo Vallecano, Gimnàstic and Mallorca (of those I know of)."


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